More than 1.87 billion doses of vaccines have been supplied globally, but there are just ten countries that have been able to vaccinate 40 percent of their population. These include the USA, Seychelles, the United Arab Emirates with 70 percent of their populations vaccinated.
Health experts are
pushing for the opening up of generic drugs for Covid-19 vaccine production to
benefit especially poor and low incoming countries.
At the onset of the
pandemic, the World Health Organisation set up an equal accelerator to oversee
among other things, equitable distribution of vaccines, making vaccines easily
available and to raise funds for research and development.
However, this stalled.
Gupta, Advisor at Access Campaign of Médecins Sans
Frontières (MSF) observes that there is a lot of stress being put on equitable distribution and on
ensuring that everyone who needs it gets it.
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Cue out:… vaccine
In October 2020, India
and South Africa called for a blanket suspension of intellectual property
rights on Covid-19 medical tools until herd immunity is reached.
In a presentation to
the Taz Panter Foundation workshop for African journalists Shailly notes that
both India and South Africa have recognized that intellectual property remains
one of the barriers for scaling up and production when it comes to access to
MSF analysis indicates that buyers of the cepheid GeneXpert Covid-19 test kit in the
US and Canada are paying $30-$50 per test.
in Africa remains an issue with machinery gathering dust in many middle and
low-income countries where the kits could be produced, yet costs of goods
including materials, manufacturing, overheads, and other indirect expenses
for each cartridge is as low as $3 at high volumes. Shailly
says the cost should be $5 dollars per test.
More than 1.87 billion
doses of vaccines have been supplied globally, but there are just ten countries
that have been able to vaccinate 40 percent of their
population. These include the USA, Seychelles, United Arab Emirates
with 70 percent of their populations vaccinated.
In Africa, countries
like DR Congo, Ethiopia and Egypt have not been able to vaccinate even one
percent of their population, yet they heavily depend on India, which has halted
export of the vaccine due to the rising number of Coronavirus infections and
Uganda has vaccinated
just over 1% of its population with at least the first of 2 doses.
Shirlly adds that big
world pharmaceuticals continue to engage even in the pandemic with the business
as usual, an approach that means profit-making. In
2019, the WHO brought to the World Health Assembly a resolution on more
transparency on the side of pharmaceutical companies to ensure that consumers
have a better understanding of the cost which goes into vaccine research,
development and production.
Alfred Driwale the Assistant Commissioner, Vaccines and Immunization in Ministry of Health Uganda explains that this
was because the consumers are in a better position to negotiate for prices with
manufactures from an informed point of view. Unfortunately,
the resolution was opposed by big economies behind pharmaceuticals that were
maximising profits in the vaccine industry.
in: So, the issue…
Driwale argues that most African countries including Uganda cannot vaccinate 22
million people with a vaccine that costs $44 or even $10.
in: So, the only…
out:…. the production capacity,"//
distribution of vaccines declining due to the crisis in India, Dr
Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam the WHO Country Representative in Uganda says, Africa
including Uganda will have to depend on
the goodwill of developed countries that are currently donating excess
vaccines to the Covax facility.
countries will have to wait for the next intellectual property negotiations
expected to take place in Canada June 8-9th during
the 44th G-7
conclusion will hopefully be reached by end of November ahead of the WTO
Ministerial Conference that runs from 30th November to 3rd December.